Shocking murder of beloved gay man prompts outpouring of grief and calls for change in South Africa

Nathaniel "SpokGoane" Mbele, a gay man who was killed in South Africa

A beloved gay man has been stabbed to death in South Africa, prompting an outpouring of grief from the LGBT+ community and desperate calls for hate crime laws to finally be passed.

According to MambaOnline, Nathaniel Mbele, known as Spokgoane, was found dead on 2 April having been stabbed in the chest in Tshirela, near the city of Vanderbijlpark.

Spokgoane was from Bophelong, a township near Vanderbijlpark, was last seen at a tavern with his friends, before leaving without telling them where he was going.

A man has been arrested in connection with his murder, but the case has been postponed until later this month.

The local LGBT+ community and those who knew Spokgoane took to social media to remember him, with many describing him as a “bubbly” person who “loved to dance”.

One of his friends wrote on Twitter: “I knew Spokgoane personally, he was a friend of mine and good friend to many people.

“What is tragic is that he was killed near my home… Rest in peace Spokgi.”

“He carried that smile on his face everyday,” wrote another. “He loved dancing. I’m going to miss you Spogie.”

The beloved gay man’s death has also reignited desperate calls for hate crime legislation in South Africa, amid a horrifying spate of LGBT+ murders.

Earlier this month, 40-year-old gay man Andile “Lulu” Ntuthela was found dead in a shallow grave, just days after another gay man was stabbed to death and dumped in a ditch near a school.

A comprehensive hate crime bill is currently pending in South African Parliament, which would punish hate crimes based on “age, albinism, birth, colour, culture, disability, ethnic or social origin, gender or gender identity, HIV status, language, nationality, migrant or refugee status, occupation or trade, political affiliation or conviction, race, religion, or sex, which includes intersex or sexual orientation”.

While the bill was open to public consultation as far back as 2016, it has stalled as critics insist it will infringe on freedom of speech.